Monday, September 30, 2013

A Good, Busy Week :)

Howdy, Y’all!

The most exciting part of my week was exchanges with Sister Stout. It was nice not having to conduct the exchange for a change! :) We met some super cool people on this exchange, and got to teach a lesson in Barnes and noble, which was super fun :) One of the people we met was an adorable black lady named Rosemary. She is one of the most motivational people I’ve ever met!!! She grew up going to a church, but at one point in her life, she realized that she was doing what she was supposed to, but not quite feeling what she was supposed to. So, she decided that she would study the bible, and any other scriptures she got, like crazy. She tries never to talk to anyone, even if It’s just the lady at the post office, without sharing her testimony that God lives. When we knocked into her, she invited us right in, because she could feel the spirit when she opened the door. She was such a cool lady!

People we're working with right now:

Devin- You may have seen this name before... That’s because we put him on date to be baptized at the beginning of the month. We taught a really powerful 1st lesson (in the dark, with crazy music on in the background, but that’s another story.........) but then he seemed to drop off the face of the earth. We had no idea where he had gone! He wasn’t returning texts or phone calls, and his house seemed deserted. Last night, we ran out of plans, and had an impression to go see him. We went, and finally caught him! He was super excited to see us! Turns out, he had had a really tragic death in his family, and he had been off dealing with that. I’m so excited to teach him about the Plan of Salvation, and testify to him that families can be together forever.

Shawn- Shawn was the Miracle guy I wrote about last week (the one that chased us down?) We have taught him quite a few times this week, and its way cool to see his testimony grow. We taught the word of wisdom on Thursday, and he told us a story about his Grandpa. Apparently, in Hmong culture, the day after someone gets married, they go out and party and get really, really, REALLY drunk. His grandpa, who had horrible liver problems, followed this tradition and ended up in the hospital,. His last words to his grandson were that this tradition ended with him, and that he was never to touch anything of the kind. It was cool for him to see that the gospel seconded that testimony he already had :) He's super excited to be baptized on the 26th of October!

Frank and Patricia- One of our appointments fell through, so we were knocking down their street. It started raining (does that a lot here...) and we were walking back to the car when we saw this guy walking his dog. I stopped to talk to him, and he saw our tags and said "Mormons! I’ve never seen lady Mormons before!" He was super excited. He's read the whole Book of Mormon (!) and said he loved it, but had a few concerns about the church. His questions were crazy, like "how did John the Baptist come back and baptize Joseph Smith? Like, how did that work?" "How does polygamy work in heaven?" and "how could Moroni be a human after he died? Didn’t he get re-incarnated into Joseph Smith or something???"

Phew. Should be an interesting lesson. He has an awesome understanding otherwise, and if we clear up some of the crazy things he's heard, He'll totally get baptized, along with his wife and 2 kids :)

The Relief Society Broadcast was this week. If y’all haven’t seen it, go watch it right now! It was wonderful!!! I loved how there was no 'fluff' to it. There was no pat on the head, or "you’re doing just fine!" that's typical of women's meetings.... Instead it was full of basic doctrine, and the work of salvation, and making and keeping covenants. So powerful!

My mom was telling me I never do anything fun on P day. Well, today, the sisters we live with are taking us to a petting Zoo, full of famous animals from movies and stuff. I am a little bit too excited for it. :)

Y’all have a blessed week!

S. Derrick

Monday, September 23, 2013

Of Misfortunes And Miracles.

Happy P day to y’all!

This has been a crazy, full week. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Seriously, almost everything good that could possibly happen happened. Then again, everything really bad happened too. Phew. Exhausting just thinking about it.

The week kicked off with zone conference. Basically, they taught us to be healthy and well-adjusted human beingsJ the mission doctor came and talked to us, and needless to say, I bought a ridiculous amount of produce today…..

President Holm gave his standby talk on “F words” (the good kind!J) There’s 4 F words that he decided when he was young would govern his life. First is faith, and the foundation that it was built on. The second was family, and complete fidelity to that. Then, after a “27 mile gap” was finance and frugality, and finally fitness. A focus on these four F words gives us one of the very best F words… Freedom. He told us that “we love in the land of the free and the home of the brave, where there are not many free, and there’s not many brave.” He counseled that if you’re struggling with any of those things, or any other F words (fear…. Failure….) you need to fix one of three things: you’re personal mentality, your personal discipline, or your methods of achieving either one. He talked about how each one of us sees life through a window, and sometimes we let people write things on that window that simply aren’t true. Sometimes we write those things ourselves… things like “I can’t….” Or “I’m not ______enough” or “I can do ____ but not ___.” We go through life, looking at it through those paradigms, and putting limits on ourselves. He then bluntly said “If my father is the king of kings, who am I to think small?!? Who am I to say I can’t?!?” If we can master that belief window, and erase the things thereon, we can conquer the world J it was a super cool training J

I also had a pretty cool spiritual affirmation, as I was sitting in that meeting. I was thinking last week, and feeling kind of bad about the way I trained S. Belyea. There was A LOT of things I could have done a lot better, things I’ve been working on with S. McNeece. I couldn’t get it out of my head that I had gone and messed up someone’s mission, maybe someone’s life, because I had accidentally slacked on something.

Anyways, P. Holm called on S. Belyea to share an experience where she had literally screeched to a halt on her bike, almost crashing and killing herself, to talk to someone on the street. The spirit prompted me, and said, “That’s the missionary you trained…. See? You did just fine. Now, go and do better.” It was a wonderful experience J

So, I would tell you about our investigators, buuuuttt……… They all dropped us this week. Every single person we had on date for baptism was anti-ed. Awesome…..

But. One of our Eternigators finally came to church!!! :D plus, another 4 people that we had no idea were coming! They just up and decided to show up. It was a miracle! I’ve seriously never had so many investigators at sacrament meeting. (And did they pick a good Sunday to come! Hooray for the primary program!)

So, for a final story, how ‘bout a cool miracle? We were going to go see a part-member family that we hadn’t been able to catch, that lived on Tucker Street. We accidentally drove past the house, so we decided to just start at the beginning of the street and knock our way down. First house…. Not interested. We left a card. #2…. Not home. #3…. Not home. #4…. Not home. We were walking down the driveway to move on to the next house, and someone comes out of house #1 and starts walking towards us (this is weird…. Normally people run away from us as soon as they see the nametags…. But this guy was definitely heading for us.) He pulls the card out of his pocket, and says “did y’all leave this with my sister?”

“Mmm…. Yes, We did….?”

“Did President Collins send you?”

President Collins? Is this guy a member?

“Uhh, nope. We were just proselyting. Are you a member of the church?”

“No, but my girlfriend is. I’ve actually been reading the book of Mormon, and I’m interested in learning more about your church. President Collins from Augusta said he would send you guys over.”

Jaw. Dropped. It was seriously so cool. I felt like I was living in the ensign.

Funny thing was, we weren’t even planning on being in that part of our area! We were planning on biking around the northernmost part, but it started pouring. We pretty much went there on a whim.

God is so great.

Welp, I hope y’all are having a great week, and sharing the gospel like crazy!

Y’all have a blessed week!

Sister Derrick

A beautiful sunset!  I don't think this is anything compared to AZ though!

I am sooooo excited to be a biking sister!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Holy Long Week!

Holy long week. Getting an area booted up is exhausting! Just a heads up, if anyone sent me any mail in the last 3 weeks or so, it’s probably coming back to you. The mission office had my address wrong, so it was going to the wrong apartment. I'm getting it fixed today though :)  

So, Miracles this week: 

On Wednesday night, we were knocking a quick street because we had some time before our missionary coordination meeting. We knocked on a door, and a tall, skinny, black guy answered the door. He was on the phone, and looked kind of annoyed. Before we could get a word out, he shot out "I don’t have time, can y’all just come back tomorrow?" and shut the door.

uhh... okay. Will do :)

So, we come back the next day expecting one of those awkward "oh, I didn’t actually expect you to come back, I was just trying to get rid of y’all" experiences (this happens a lot...). To our surprise, we find him sitting on the front porch, waiting for us! His name was Devin, and he was a corrections officer, looking for a little peace and direction. We taught him the first lesson on the spot, and invited him to be baptized. You could just tell that the spirit was testifying to him when he sat and thought for a minute, and then quietly said "yeah... that’s something I would be very interested in..." 

Yesterday, we were biking around one of the more populated parts of our area. We were super hungry (we pretty much ran out of groceries this week....) and didn’t have water (Sis. McNeece set her water bottle down to lock up the bikes, and it rolled into the sewer...) and nobody was answering their doors. We rode by the home of one of our members, Sis. Soulsbee, and felt to knock on her door. She had stayed home from church sick that day, so we were pretty wary, but we followed the prompting, and she pulled us right in. without being asked, she fed us and gave us water.... we were so grateful! The Lord sure takes care of his missionaries!  

That same day, we were biking to the home of a less active member, and found out that the address that was on the ward roster didn’t exist. Shoot. So, we decide to knock the area where we were, and found a new neighborhood! This is a big deal, because most of our area is so spread out, it’s hard to find areas with concentrated people. And this neighborhood was awesome... lots of families. We ran into a group of about 30 kids playing football, and we taught them a little bit, and then they all ran in to get their parents, or asked us to knock on their doors.... we left that neighborhood with full appointment books. Such a blessing! 

We also met some really interesting people this week... one lady really stands out in my head. I never caught her name, but she was "holiness Pentecostal" and had been "since scratch"... she wasn’t interested in our message, but appreciated what we were doing, and then launched into a story about how the government was supposed to be based off of the 10 commandments, and about lots of different conspiracy theories and how Cain was the offspring of Satan whereas able was the son of Adam, and somehow that tied into "Joseph and Esau" and how Joseph was secretly the devil because he was holding on to Esau’s heel.... I don’t even know. She went off for a good 10 minutes, and then shook our hands and went back inside. We couldn’t even get in a word edgewise.

Funniest. Contact. Ever.  

Have y’all seen those new intros to Mormons videos? They're so great! Share them with everyone!!! :) 

Whelp that’s my week. Hope yours is full of miracles :) 

Y’all have a blessed week!

Sister Derrick

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

An Email Of Many Lists! :)

So, Spartanburg. This place is SO. FUN. I have never been in a ward that is so completely southern! My first Sunday was so fun:

- This Sunday the speaker was a convert from Louisiana, and I swear, I was sitting in the middle of a Baptist sermon. She was preachin' up there like there was no tomorrow! It was so great!

-Our ward council is nuts! There are at least 6 conversations going on at all times, and when we would pause to let an auxiliary member comment on something, the RS president would urge us onward, so we could get through it in time. not super productive, but kind of fun none the less :) (Dont worry dad, we still get our investigators needs met... its just not quite as organized :))

-Everyone is related. The ward is made up of 2 main families, and you can ask someone to identify their third cousin twice removed, and they'll just point to the pew across the aisle. So funny.

-we have a sweet sister who brings her dog to church....

So, More about S. McNeese:

-She's from Utah, but spent most of her life in Wisconsin

-She's an avid journal writer

-She is super quiet, and reminds me a lot of me when I first came out.

- She lets me sing in the car. (She deserves to be sainted for that...)

-She's super organized (a very good thing!)

Sister McNeese and Bryndee study time!

Sister McNeese and Bryndee having fun with contact paper.
-Our (potential) Investigator (we dont have many at the moment...):

-Ryder: someone we knocked into. She's had a very hard life, with lots of traumatic experiences, but has miraculously maintained her faith in Jesus Christ through it all. We taught her the restoration of the gospel, and she wasnt too sure about all of it, but accepted the challenge to read and pray about the book of Mormon, so we'll see :)

Kind of slim pickings this week, but we're fixin' to find more :) Opening Spartanburg has been slow, but the cool thing is that this is the Lord's work, and he sent me here for a reason. He doesnt want me to fail..... Were just in the trial of our faith part right now :)

One last note about why I love this area: WE GET BIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so stinkin' excited about that one :)

Well, Y’all have a blessed week, and go make some friends to share the gospel with!

S. Derrick
P.S.  It's funny how much Ive changed in the last 6 months... I don't even feel like the same person sometimes. President describes a mission as a pressure cooker.... it makes us cook faster than we would in normal life :) Its going by too fast!!!

Hello From.............

SPARTANBURG! :) looks like I’m opening another area, and training a new companion! So far, it’s been quite the adventure...  

But first- a few random things that happened in Simpsonville: 

-I got to go on a picnic to a place called Ceaser's head with an investigator named Steven. Super fun!
Ceaser Head
Cute Bryndee.  First time in jeans since she has been in the mission field.
Sister Belyea and Bryndee.  Someday Bryndee will be taller and older than her compions...someday!

- We got to eat dinner with Bryson on Monday... and I had my first green bean casserole. Southern food is so good! :)

One last lesson with Bryson!
-Sis. Houston still has no visa! I’m pretty sure she's going to stay here forever! 

Simpsonville taught me so much. It taught me that I really can do tough things.... I’m sure going to miss that place! Not to mention Sister Belyea.... She really was a wonderful companion. 

Bryndee can do tough things...check out the size of this spider!
Bryndee and Sister Belyea...last time together as companions.

New Companionships.  Bryndee with Sister McNeece and Sister Belyea and Sister Ramstedt.

Okay, so my new area is the Spartanburg 1st ward. This ward hasn’t had sisters in years, so we're super excited to be here! The elders gave us the south part of their area, which has really never been worked, so we're pretty much starting from scratch. We share the ward with the zone leader, which is kinda intimidating, but super inspiring as well! These guys are awesome!  

Sister McNeece is great. She is so calm and collected, even when things fall apart a million different ways. She's from Springville Utah, 21 years old (someday I'll get someone younger than me.... :p) and loves to bake and cook and read. 

So, when you open an area, you usually get a box with a phone, and car keys, and apartment keys, and media (pass-along cards, bom's, etc...) after transfer meeting. We were excited about our area, and ready to go, when we go look for this box, and........... nothing. The assistants had forgotten to make one for our area. Luckily we had a member ride, so sister Graves (who is a rock star...) drove us all over Columbia so we could get a phone (which ended up not even working when we got it... ), and then took us back to Simpsonville to pick up a car, and then back to Spartanburg. It was a little bit of a mess, but kinda fun :) 

So, this week looks like making a map and area book, and seeing if we can pick up some people to teach.  

Sorry this letter is so short, there’s not much to write about yet!  

Y’all have a blessed week!

Sis. Derrick